Jewish settler leaders were moved to express their satisfaction with Barack Obama’s Middle East speech at the AIPAC annual conference, going as far as inviting the US president to join the leadership of their association.
Benny Katzover, longtime leader of the West Bank settlement movement, said that the speech didn’t just represent a victory for Israel, but it was also a great statement of support to the concept of settlement and to the “entrenchment of Jewish presence” in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel Seven, Katzover explained that Obama’s honest and clear mention of the necessity to take into consideration the demographic shifts taking place in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan after 1967 gives legitimacy to Israel’s right to keep Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and supports without reservation the Jewish right to reinforce the settlement project as a whole and the Judaisation of Jerusalem. In his speech, Obama implied his support for Jerusalem to be the eternal and unified capital for the Jewish people, said Katzover.
In its turn, Israeli Radio, reporting in Hebrew, said Sunday night that one of Banjamin Netanyahu’s aides said that Obama’s AIPAC speech showed that Netanyahu’ firmness and determination forced the US president to back down from his statements in last Thursday’s Middle East speech that had angered Israel.
The aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Netanyahu is now able to return to his country with pride and veneration after demonstrating his capability of saying no to the president of a foreign country, even if it was the most powerful country in the world and Israel’s biggest ally.
On another note, many writers and intellectuals of the Israeli right were sarcastic at the speed by which Obama backed down.
In his column in Israeli daily Ma’ariv, writer Arel Segal criticised circles in the Israeli left who had been against Netanyahu’s aggressive stance towards Obama. Netanyahu, he said, had proved that he is worthy of representing Israeli interests, as proven by Obama’s capitulation to him.